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Court delay puts Boston police promotions on hold

May 28, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — The careers of more than 1,600 Boston police officers have been put on hold while a federal judge weighs whether the department’s promotion exam is biased against some minorities.

Commissioner Ed Davis and department officials have urged Judge George O’Toole Jr. to issue a ruling in the case more than two years after hearing closing arguments in a lawsuit brought by minority officers. Twice, a city attorney has written the federal judge asking him to rule, to no avail.

Meanwhile, the department has stopped giving the exam.

“We encourage the judge to make a decision to allow the department to move forward with a new promotional examination that both meets legal requirements, and identifies the best supervisor candidates for the department,” Davis said in a statement to The Boston Globe.

The case was brought by 44 minority officers from seven departments, who argued that the test is inherently discriminatory. The other departments involved are Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Springfield, Worcester, and the MBTA police.

A clerk for O’Toole said the judge cannot comment on pending cases.

The delay has affected morale, said Mark Parolin, vice president of the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation.

“The career path has been stymied,” Parolin said.

Minority officers are also anxiously awaiting a ruling, said Boston police Detective Larry Ellison, president of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.

He questioned why the department stopped offering the exam.

“How can you say there is nothing wrong with (the exam) and then you stop using it?” Ellison said. “It’s almost like you’re admitting there is something wrong.”

There are no deadlines for making a decision and long waits are not unusual, said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor and former federal judge.

It is probably taking a long time because of the complexities of the case, she said.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe

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